Two vets seek to quit K4 rescue monitoring team

Latest picture of female tiger K4.

Hyderabad: The operation to rescue the female tiger K4 in Mancherial forests appeared to have suffered a severe setback with two of the wildlife veterinarians in the NTCA committee overseeing the rescue operations seeking to opt out.

It was reliably learnt that the two veterinarians from Maharashtra — Dr Ravikanth Khobragade and Dr Sunil Bawaskar — informed the State Forest Department on Sunday that they can no longer continue in the monitoring committee.

It may be recalled that K4 was stuck in a poacher’s wire snare that has stayed on its abdomen for nearly two years now. The tigress itself is believed to be more than two and a half years old now and is expected to begin searching for a mate to breed.

Incidentally, Dr Khobragade was key member of a ‘Rapid Response Team’ set up by the department in June this year to capture the tigress in Mancherial. He was expected to take the lead in capturing K4 once it was decided that the animal was in a location where it could be tranquilised. This was expected to be followed by a surgery in a veterinary hospital to remove the wire snare from its abdomen.

It was learnt that the official reason cited by the veterinarians was that they were busy with work in their own State of Maharashtra. However, the trigger that prompted their action is said to be comments circulating in a section of the Forest Department here that these two vets would have not much to contribute to rescue of K4. This, it was learnt, was because they were not called in for the rescue of Pandharkawda tigress T1 in Yavatmal district of their own State and instead the Maharashtra Forest Department asked wildlife vets from MP to come and rescue the T1.

Sunday’s communication to the Forest Department leaves the National Tiger Conservation Authority monitored committee on rescue of K4 gutted of two veterinarians leaving two others, former Nehru Zoological Park vet Dr Navin Kumar and Dr Praveen from the Animal Husbandary Department who assists the Warangal zoo.